Can LASIK Hurt My Night Vision?
In fact, many people who choose to have LASIK surgery report their night vision after surgery is noticeably sharper than it was with eyeglasses or contact lenses prior to surgery.
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Eye Institute (NEI) and Department of Defense released results of their jointly sponsored LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project, which evaluated LASIK risks and complications, based on patient-reported outcomes via a standardized survey.
The survey, called the Patient Reported Outcomes with LASIK (PROWL) questionnaire, was presented to two sets of LASIK patients: 262 military LASIK patients (PROWL-1) and 312 non-military LASIK patients (PROWL-2). Participants in the study completed the PROWL questionnaire prior to LASIK (wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses), immediately following the procedure, and one month and three months after surgery.
Night vision problems decreased after LASIK, compared with complaints of glare, halos and starbursts reported prior to surgery.
More than 95 percent of the pooled participants achieved 20/20 or better vision without corrective lenses three months after their LASIK procedure.
And although a significant minority of patients experienced night vision symptoms including glare, halos and starbursts around lights after LASIK, the prevalence of night vision problems decreased after LASIK, compared with complaints of glare, halos and starbursts reported by patients prior to surgery when wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses.
For example, prior to LASIK surgery, 41 percent of patients in the PROWL-1 group and 37 percent in the PROWL-2 group complained of glare with glasses or contact lenses. Three months after LASIK, those percentages dropped to 23 percent and 27 percent, respectively, without corrective lenses.
[For additional perspective on the PROWL study, see the American Refractive Surgery Council's website.]
During your LASIK consultation, your eye doctor or LASIK surgeon will take detailed measurements of your eyes and discuss your risk of glare, halos and other side effects that could affect your night vision.
In many cases, a custom LASIK procedure can best reduce your risk of visual symptoms after LASIK. And if you experience persistent halos or glare after LASIK surgery that affect your night vision, a LASIK enhancement often can help.
If you have only minimal refractive error remaining after LASIK and you choose not to have an enhancement or you're not a good candidate for additional surgery, consider purchasing eyeglasses for driving at night and other tasks where your vision might seem bothersome. For the best vision and comfort, have anti-reflective coating applied to the lenses to eliminate distracting lens reflections.
About the Author: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.
Page updated March 2018